Until the days when an inch of bare skin on a normal-sized woman isn't regarded as a badge of courage, we have Mindy Kaling to make us laugh about it.
On her March 31 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kaling discussed the universal praise she earned for telling Vogue she doesn't "want to be skinny." “People were like, ‘That’s so great that you said it,’ and I didn’t think that was so weird," Kaling told Kimmel. "Every woman I know feels that way."
It's easy to simply celebrate Kaling's statements on body image in Hollywood, but the actress reminds us how ridiculous it actually is when a statement like "I don't have any use for being any thinner than what is healthy" translates into "I don't subscribe to beauty ideals." Kaling showed Kimmel a much-celebrated picture of her in a crop top, and lampooned the bizarre assumption that average-sized women don't care how they look:
I am the recipient of a lot of backhanded compliments about it, where people are like, ‘It’s so nice that Mindy Kaling doesn’t feel she needs to subscribe to the ideals of beauty that other people do.’ And I’m like, ‘I do subscribe!’ They’re like, ‘It’s so refreshing that Mindy feels comfortable to let herself go and be a fat sea monster.’ By the way, I like run and work out. It takes a lot of effort to look like a normal/chubby woman. The way they talk about it, [it's] like, ‘She’s a pioneer because she’s glued to her sofa.’
Some people were pretty mean about it, but then some people were like, ‘She’s just so courageous!’ Aren’t surgeons courageous?”
"The Mindy Project" creator and actress also told Kimmel that being a role model and caring about your appearance is an exceedingly difficult balance to strike:
On my show, I date guys...if that makes girls feel like, 'Oh you can be normal and get married and having sex' -- which largely TV [says] you can't do -- then great. But you also don't want to be the face of Stay Puft marshmallows. It's hard when you're a narcissistic vain person and you wanna be a role model.
While we definitely count Kaling among our body images heroes, we love her reminder that an average-sized human showing an inch of midriff should not an act of heroism make. The war for body acceptance will be long, but at least some of the battles give us a laugh.